Island Insights

The History of Kiawah & More

Native Americans, English colonists, American plantation owners, and a supposed pirate play significant roles in Kiawah’s Island history. Our timeline highlights some of Kiawah’s most illustrious events of the past, followed by some facts about the Island that we so enjoy today.

The History of Kiawah & More

Native Americans, English colonists, American plantation owners, and a supposed pirate play significant roles in Kiawah’s Island history. Our timeline highlights some of Kiawah’s most illustrious events of the past, followed by some facts about the Island that we so enjoy today.

2000's

2021

PGA Championship returns to The Ocean Course

2013

South Street Partners acquire Kiawah Partners

2012

PGA Championship played at The Ocean Course won by Rory McIlroy Ocean Park neighborhood debuts

2007

New Ocean Course Clubhouse opens for Senior PGA

2004

Kiawah Partners break ground on Freshfields Village

The Sanctuary hotel at Kiawah Island opens

2000

Kiawah Island Club’s Cassique Course, designed by Tom Watson, opens

1900's

1995

Kiawah Island Club’s River Course, designed by Tom Fazio, opens

1994

Darby family acquires Vanderhorst home and begins restoration

1993

The Kiawah Island Club (KIC) is founded

1991

USA beats Europe in dramatic finish of the Ryder Cup Matches at the new Ocean Course designed by Pete Dye

1989

Hurricane Hugo hits the Charleston area KRA sells resort assets to Landmark Land Co.

photo by Glenn Jeffries

1988

Osprey Point golf course, designed by Tom Fazio, opens

Real estate developer Kiawah Resort Associates (KRA) purchases Kiawah’s Undeveloped lands and all resort assets and amenities

Town of Kiawah is incorporated

1981

Turtle Point, designed by Jack Nicklaus, opens

1976

Real Estate sales begin and the Kiawah Island Inn opens

Marsh Point (now known as Cougar Point) golf course, designed by Gary Player, opens

1974

The heirs of C.C. Royal sell Kiawah to Kuwait Investment Corporation; an extensive environmental inventory is conducted, a master plan for development is drawn

1954

C.C. Royal develops the first summer home neighborhood on Kiawah along the beach and names the street Eugenia, after his wife

1950

C.C. Royal purchases Kiawah from the Vanderhorst estate to use for logging and timber

1911

Daily passenger and freight service by boat from Kiawah to Charleston begins

1900

Adele Vanderhorst purchases the Gibbes property, uniting Kiawah under a single owner for the first time in almost 200 years

1800's

1864

Union Troops almost demolish Vanderhorst plantation home

1862

Civil War brings Confederate troops, who occupy and destroy Shoolbred plantation

image source: Library of Congress

1815

Elias Vanderhorst inherits Kiawah Island from Arnoldus II, and continues production of cotton

1812

During the War of 1812, fortifications are built on the north end of Kiawah to maintain control of the Stono and Kiawah Rivers

1700's

1782

General Nathaniel Greene arranges a truce for American officers to use Kiawah for rest and relaxation; the officers stay at the Gibbes plantation on the Kiawah River

1780

British burn the home of Arnoldus Vanderhorst II

1775

Revolutionary War begins. Arnoldus Vanderhorst II, Governor of South Carolina, acquires title to Sandy Point area of Kiawah Island

1717

John Stanyarne acquires Kiawah Island

1600's

1675

Kiawah Indians cede Kiawah Island to the English Lord’s Proprietor, Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury

1670

Cassique, chieftain of the Kiawah Indians, leads English colonists to settle at Charlestowne Landing

Wish You Were Here: Our Lowcountry Location

Kiawah is a part of Charleston County and getting to the Island is easy. A causeway weaving through a stunning stretch of Lowcountry terrain joins the private island to the mainland. Kiawah is a quick, 33-mile trip from Charleston International Airport (CHS), and only 10 miles from Charleston Executive Airport (JZI).

Sunny Side Up: Kiawah Weather

Year-round connection with nature comes standard on Kiawah Island. The weather is enviably temperate, with an average high temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and an average high temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. Typically, the coldest month is January, the warmest is July, and the rainiest is August.

Kiawah Government

The town of Kiawah was Incorporated in 1988. Its primary aim is providing a responsive local government and maintaining local control of available, existing technical services by interfacing with boards and committees. The town operates as a Mayor-Council form of government.

Nice to Meet You: The Kiawah Population

Kiawah Island’s full-time resident population is approximately 1,400, with tourist and part-time resident population numbers ranging between 8,000 to 10,000 per day during the summer; the median age is 61 years old.

Explore Island Life

Out & About

From fairways to Freshfields, from Charleston to churches, Kiawah’s ideal location places residents in the heart of the Lowcountry and its most celebrated offerings.

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Within Nature

The neighbors get a little wild on Kiawah–and we love it. With so many species of mammals, reptiles, and birds residing here, we’re dedicated to making sure they always feel at home.

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On the Water

H2OMG! With ten miles of gorgeous Atlantic shoreline, the shimmering Kiawah River, ribboning waterways, and tranquil lagoons, the Island is an everyday celebration of life in flow motion.

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